Perceived parent needs in engaging with therapeutic supports for children with disabilities in school settings: An exploratory study

Ashley N. Murphy*, Heather J. Risser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Parent engagement in therapeutic services for children with disabilities could optimize service delivery while addressing service disparities. However, service providers must first understand parents’ needs to effectively involve parents. Aims: This study examines what needs parents identify as important when engaging with school-based therapies and how well these needs are being met. Methods and procedures: Parents of children with Individualized Education Plans rated statements related to their needs for trust, information, support and guidance, and personal needs when engaging with their child's therapies. Parents also provided demographic information on them and their child[ren] with a disability. Outcomes and results: Parents endorsed an average of 83 % of needs as important but 51 % of needs as unmet. Parents indicated that needs related to feeling trusted by service providers were most frequently met. In contrast, needs related to receiving information were most frequently unmet. Race/ethnicity and number of children with a disability influenced the number of needs endorsed as important and unmet. Conclusion: This feasibility study suggests that parents find a variety of needs regarding their interactions with school-based providers as important to them. However, given the high proportion of needs indicated being unmet, significant gaps likely exist in effectively engaging parents, especially for Parents of Color and parents with multiple children with disabilities. Implications: This study provides a list of tangible needs school-based providers can use to improve parent engagement with school-based therapies. School-based providers and administrators can use the needs identified as important and unmet in this study to create actionable steps that aim to improve parent engagement in school-based services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104183
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Children with disabilities
  • Needs assessment
  • Parent needs
  • Related services
  • School-based services
  • Special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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